Mayor Steele: G.I. revenue down, gatherings and pools on hold until August

Published: May. 14, 2020 at 11:57 AM CDT
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In his weekly update to the city, Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele said the COVID-19 pandemic will have a direct impact on the city budget and that crowd gatherings will likely not be allowed until at least August.

Mayor Steele said since the pandemic, the food and beverage tax has seen a significant hit of over $437,000.

“So far, the city is looking at a 12% decrease in city sales tax, resulting in over a million dollars loss in yearly revenue. Based on the numbers we are looking at a 5.6% decrease to our general fund, which totals about $2.2 million dollars for the remainder of the year,” Steele said because of this they are looking at ways to reduce spending.

If revenue continues to drop, government programs and worker salaries like police officers, firefighters and others could be at risk. The city will work to avoid this at all cost.

"We have no plans right now to layoff anybody. I don't want it to come to that. I cannot predict the future," said Steele.

City staff will cut costs and save money when possible to protect city from COVID-19 affects. Projections will change monthly as city receives more tax information from the Nebraska Department of Revenue.

Steele had more bleak news to share, “(Central District Health Department director)Teresa (Anderson) and I spoke with the governor on Friday, he does not think we should allow crowd gatherings for Hall County until at least August, if not further,” he said.

Steele said swimming pools and water parks, which would include Lincoln Pool, Island Oasis and others, will not be able to open either due to the health guidelines on gatherings.

Anderson, with the Central District Health Department, gave some good news in the form of COVID-19 numbers, saying that so far this week only 41 cases have come back positive for COVID-19. “If we look back to the week ending in May 1st, we had over 200 confirmed cases. So, we are starting to come down in our numbers. This is good news,” said Anderson.

Anderson also said that while this is good news, residents must continue social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing and staying home when sick, “It’s better to be safe than sorry,” she said.

In addition, Anderson said the CDHD is working with Test Nebraska and are providing daily feedback on the testing process. They expect things to get better with the processing of the test results.